Joel Sherman checks in with a thought that is right on the money:
The Yankees’ plans for their playoff rotation should look like this:
Ride CC Sabathia, hope for Andy Pettitte and turn the rest of the games into a version of tag-team wrestling.
The leash traditionally is short in the postseason for a starter since each game is so precious. But, due to pedigree and trust factor, the Yankees will allow Sabathia and Pettitte (health permitting) to attempt to work through some early-inning crises.
But their other starters should just put blinders on when it comes to the bullpen. Because relievers are going to be up early and often. Maybe A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes will get starts. However, Ivan Nova or Javier Vazquez or another long man will be on alert from the outset.
With the quality that the bullpen has given the Yankees over the second half, it makes sense for Girardi to have a quick hook on his starters in the postseason. Considering that no team plays more than three games consecutively in the playoffs, Joe can run his best relievers out to the mound each night without fear of drastically reducing their effectiveness. Furthermore, the relievers are being rested now for precisely that purpose. I would expect Girardi to go to his bullpen early and often if his starter begins to lose his stuff, particularly if it is Hughes or Burnett on the hill.
Additionally, I think it is highly likely that the Yankees will have Javier Vazquez and either Ivan Nova or Dustin Moseley on the playoff roster for exactly the purpose that Sherman outlines. With only 3 starters needed in the ALDS, it is possible that the Yankees will have 3 starters/long relievers in the bullpen for that series. If the Game 3 starter begins to falter in the early innings, there is absolutely no reason for Joe to hesitate in going to his bullpen.
I happen to be fairly confident that Phil Hughes can give them a solid start in Game 3 of the ALDS and render this discussion moot. But if he begins to struggle, the Yankees should have plenty of options who can come in and give them a solid performance.
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